World Premiere of Ge Gan-ru's Four Studies for Peking Opera for piano and string quartet (2002) performed at Other Minds 9 at San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts, 2003.
Four Studies of Peking Opera for piano and string quartet (2002)
Gloria Cheng, piano; Onyx String Quartet: Anna Presler and Karen Shinozaki, violins; Phyllis Kamrin, viola; Leighton Fong, cello
Each of the four movements distills some characteristic elements of Peking Opera. The first movement evokes the unique percussive timbres and rhythms which typically accompany the gestures of Peking Opera performers on stage. A variety of dramatic music accentuates the performers gestures and underscores their individual roles. The second movement celebrates specific qualities of Peking Opera aria singing. Starting with the cello followed in turn by viola, violins and piano, a single line of music develops and expands through layers of variations into a complex texture. The piano concludes by summarizing the voices of the four strings. In the third movement, the instruments imitate the singers spoken narratives which are as essential to Peking Opera as arias are to Western operas. Because of the four-tone system of the Chinese language, these narratives are far more melodic than we are accustomed to in English. The last movement, which is in rondo form, employs quickly accelerating rhythmic patterns that are typical of Peking Opera.
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